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County board denies Local 320 grievance application

During its Feb. 24 board meeting, the Wadena County Commissioners voted unanimously "to deny the grievance brought by Local 320 because it is outside the contract, and again offer the previous agreement."

The vote was 4-0, with chair Ralph Miller abstaining. His wife, Rosalie Miller, works for the county and is a Local 320 steward.

The grievance application alleged that the county violated "Article 3, Section 3.10, and any and all applicable provisions of the Labor Agreement, Law, and Past Practice."

The grievance was presented to Miller in a letter dated Feb. 13, 2012, signed by Joanne Derby, Teamsters Local 320 president/business agent. It addresses the disagreement about the pay of Solid Waste Department employees who work Saturdays at the county Transfer Station.

The disagreement has been going on for about six months. At the Feb. 7 county board meeting, commissioners made their final offer to the employees.

Quoting from the union grievance, the facts are as follows: "In June of 2011, the Department Head of the Solid Waste Department changed the terms and conditions of employment in mid-contract without contacting, meeting or negotiating the change with the Union. The Solid Waste Attendants are no longer compensated at time and one-half on Saturdays if there is a holiday or if they took vacation, sick leave or comp time during that week. The 'Past Practice' from 2005 up to June 2011 was that they were compensated at time and one-half for all hours worked on a Saturday. Also, at the direction of the Dept Hd/Supvr time sheets were not correctly filled out to show actual hours worked each day of a pay period. This was to avoid the payment of overtime. Further facts to be presented at the time of the hearing."

The county denied the grievance after a closed board meeting lasting 29 minutes, during which County Attorney Kyra Ladd read aloud a memo from labor attorney Steve Burton about the grievance and his legal opinion and advice to the county. These communications were covered by attorney-client privilege and were not released to the public or to the press.

Additional information on the grievance process will come during the next few weeks.